Ode to Cabbage

There’s a dearth of cabbage, that kraut helmet of green
On these pages, be they leaves or my unraveling.
Far be it for me— er,  Be – It – Far – From —
O! fuckit! Farbeitfrom should be gum.Farbeitfrom me to judge olde histories,
Mine’s an umpire’s perception’s opinion.
What’s forgot’s now lost to untold mysteries;
Losers annals aren’t Clio’s dominion.

Behold! hungry mourner, there’s gold been buried,
A dirge not so sad, after all.
Arise! hop ‘n’ clap, sing it slow, then hurried,
Drive the fall of the soul to the wall!

For this elegy’s a chant, ifyewill, it’s a song
A ballad, a caroled incantation
Of laudatory force to wake forth, to wake long,
So sing it! unto syne reputation!

Fare thee well, hair helmet of cabbage, we knew
Hardly you, or your twilight’s bread unleavened.
Your legacy’s the chancellorship’s prolonged hew’,
Lured and end doer’d and for good eighty-seven’d.

It’s of goals got, this bestowment —
Be it obit, be it passed, be it death be not proud.
See! the eyes in the head cannot hide, betray it loud:
“This must be my proudest moment.”

Verdict: the Kissinger Prize, May 2011 – Berlin

 

Recollection of the Image Nation by Skips Wayback

I imagine America as an unfunny but popular sitcom whose character played by Charlie Sheen is struck dead by a train and replaced with a strikingly Ashton Kutcher-like character eventually to wring four more seasons out of the franchise. I imagine the suitable TV trope to be jumping the Shark Tank.In point of fact, I have never seen this sitcom. I say this not in the way of people who smugly claim to have never watched something when you know they really have, but to clarify smugly that I know nothing of the show outside of the brief dramedy surrounding its production; if I was ever made familiar with its content, it remains a residual memory via spoken promos during NFL broadcasts, and it’s been so long since I’ve seen a football game or been in a room with one on in the background that I’m unsure whose voice would have intoned what I imagine now to have been the plot-line & title among others of the relevant evenings’ programming.

It’s possible, likely even, that the voicing of the title in question is a construction of my imagination conflated with other sitcoms from a time when I still had a television, which would make me less familiar with the show than I was fully aware. Okay, in truth, I constructed that conflation for effect, the point albeit being that I have heard, as well as seen, too much come out of the idiot box to draw consistent distinctions.

This accounts for an awful lot of fog, or static or fuzz even, so that the clearest detail of this kind I can dial into hearkens way back to the building hype surrounding the transition from Shield to Storm (of Desert distinction) in the winter of 1990-91. It is only down to repeated viewings on video cassette that this memory has not faded for good. It comes by dint of a David Brinkley voiceover during the closing credits of Twin Peaks that promised for the coming Sunday the tackling of the concern “Will there be war?” If you know his voice you can imagine the upper register squelch that punctuates the question. I don’t imagine that Angelo Badalamenti imagined that he would be scoring a teaser for war drum propaganda. Then again, all is fair & nothing is sacred in war & teevee.

Back in the 21st century and my opening analogy: There’s plenty of bicker & forth in the building of the most fitting metaphor for this or that thing worthy of amusing or thought provoking comparisons. A notable recent example was acted out by the dueling factions of lesser non-virtuousness, which can be seen in the desperately clingy rift in the Democratic Twitterverse:

My guess is that Bernie-bro-bots and Hills-hath-furies might be of one mind in associating the image of a coked-up & out-of-control whore-monger Charlie Sheen with the character of Don-John Trump, 45th usurper of a haughty concept, and 44th denizen of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave (42nd if you don’t count Ben Harrison’s one-term trashing of Grover Cleveland’s aesthetic).

Would my analogy have it that the current President is Ashton Kutcher? Not exactly. Ashton Kutcher rather represents the paradox of the stated uncertainty of the day: the occupant of the premises, not the embodiment of the occupant. The drug fueled egomania of Charlie Sheen is a tempting juxtaposition, for sure, but his is a more apt effigy to the type of celebrity apprentice who would wrap himself around the Don’s pinky finger in order to hold on to the teevee gig that services the binge.

Still, as one can deduce from his infamous Battle of the Chucks, Sheen’s desperation didn’t deign to flatter the boss. Remember that the producers had him written off his own show per offscreen tragedy with a train. No doubt the fans of the sitcom had been following the actor’s public-private trainwreck. Get it?

Am I therefore saying that the President or his presidency is the proverbial trainwreck? Not quite. I’m saying that the President epitomizes a sordid crash parodied into a storyline befitting all precedent decadence.

That same sitcom featured another junior icon of the 80’s who cared enough about his status inside Hollywood’s buddy system that he once had a publicist spin his affection for Republican politicians into the apolitical desire to hear “both sides”, which, if you haven’t yet noticed, is the nomenclature for the Overton window that — when tooled toward the easily controllable opposition of partisan politics — allows for the scripting of any public policy that isn’t good (aka “good” – that which you shouldn’t allow yourself to be the enemy of, and which, featured along with the forever fogging window is the offscreen threat that lesser-decline is no worse than lesser-improvement until such time as lesser-improvement has the votes, at which point we should not lose sight of the relative worthiness of lesser-decline, lest something worse happen along if we were to “take our eyes off the ball”).

This represents the ostensible sensible middle that the party elders loudly laud every time they lose the big chair, and often when they win it. It is staged in terms of a seasonally swinging electorate. In reality this room-to-oscillate is, over the long haul, not coincidentally shrinking in one direction: Comedy. Bad. Severely.

If you’ve found yourself in a dream not knowing when, where, why, or how it is you are going to complete a task likewise unknown save for the fact that you believe you have to carry it out for some reason, surely reasonable, know that this is remarkably similar in affectation to the actor’s nightmare, real or imagined, asleep or awake, of standing on stage, in this case a sound stage, having forgotten his or her lines, or, more fittingly, without an inkling of ever having learned them. Cue laughter, sweetened to replicate authenticity.

At the stage where the audience is conditioned to respond predictably, the distinction is diminished.

Let’s Get Lit

Worse than its misapplication is the superfluous “literally” in lieu of an already perfectly gratuitous “like”. Like, way worse. I am herewith copping to its being my own pet peeve in the sense that when I hear or read it I get irritated. Like, really irritated. Literally like. Not metaphorically maybe, but literally literally. Also, as a pet peeve it represents an almost subliminal sense of superiority on my part even though I know I am inferior in more ways than are countable, and how the simple occurrence of its use makes it silly and stupid of me to allow it to get on my nerves. File this paragraph under “that said”. Continue reading

Zeitkolonie

This guy sits in solitary confinement for twenty years. It would’ve been for eighty except it’s proved more enough beyond a reasonable doubt than was in the case against him that somebody else had committed the crime for which he had been sentenced. The state’s attorney — three state’s attorney’s removed from the one who’d led the prosecution — filed a plea for early release before the circuit judge, along with the request that the defendant be granted said release under special circumstances, yet not have his judgment overturned, since neither the state’s attorney’s office, the original prosecutor, nor the presiding judge in the case under review should be construed as liable for having contributed willfully or otherwise to a miscarriage of justice, which interpretation might be so enabled were the ruling to be vacated. The public defender acquiesced in the interest of expediency, having extended this recommendation to his client who had long settled that resistance was futile. It was therefore argued that it would be in the interest of the state judiciary and law enforcement if the guilty verdict remained in tact, which argument whatever it’s worth the judge interpreted as well-reasoned and so ordered.Thereby released, this newly freed man found himself in a position to reap just the kind of attention one would hope for — at least as one not affected might reckon — when a human rights lawyer applying pressure with just the right balance of ruthless tact and diplomatic expression convinced the court that it would be in the interest of the state to provide a penury allowance commensurate with the length of the term of imprisonment and successfully negotiated financial compensation for time served. It was clear to the parties when the sentence was to be suspended that the preponderance of prospect lie therein that the defendant’s ability to find gainful employment would be infringed. His lawyer was able to accentuate that fact not only with meticulous clarity, but persuasively.

One might say the settlement was handsome, but then twenty years is not something that’s easy to evaluate or — put another way, it’s hard to prove that the burden of the twenty years was equally as bad as the recompense was ameliorative. It is at any rate with great difficulty that one should consider freedom under the aforementioned circumstances on par with one’s being lucky, save for when one is speaking of the objective odds in a game of chance, all things in this case, however, being unequal. The monetary sum did afford him a roof over his head with steady meals for a lifetime, which as irony dictates was what he had before his release; it was in fact that around which his punishment was crafted. Nevertheless, one substantial distinction would be how post-incarceration he would arrange his living space and the time within it.

The first thing he did was acquire twenty years of lost history in the form of mostly out-of-print nonfiction reading material, which, nomenclature aside, was fiction insofar as the digestion of such would give its readers — amongst whom numbered the accused’s next of kin — the impression that our then not-yet newly freed lifer had been, beyond the kind of doubt maintained as reasonable, guilty of the crime for which he’d been judged: He gathered two decades of daily & weekly newspaper- and monthly & bimonthly magazine back issues and arranged them in a library of sorts that he had furnished with wall-to-wall shelves from ceiling to floor. As timing would have it, it was still just easy enough with a certain sum of money and the use of the postal service to obtain in pulp form everything he considered necessary to catch up on the past.

Adjacent to the makeshift library — to previous tenants a bedroom — was a walk-in closet that served a threesome of panels on which to pin and notate developments of interest, of which he would feed one above all. This habit eventually expanded, then relocated to the living room cum bedroom cum catchall for hanging periodical clippings and observations thereof. The bathroom remained a bathroom, the kitchen a kitchen. This aside, the living-working space diverged from its occupant’s previous quarters by an additional four hundred square feet that accommodated the aerobics that succeeded the prisoner’s calisthenics.

He didn’t subscribe to any contemporary journals. Correspondingly, he made no use of television except as a monitor to watch archival video footage of newscasts and special reports of both the local and not so local sort. His idea was explicit: He’d start every day with the morning paper, each week with a few magazines, and a recorded broadcast in & between. One’d think he might not be disinclined to skip forward, or peek to the most recent publication, which’d be the paper from the day before his release, and work backward, but he began and pressed steadily onward vacant evident temptation to deviate from the plan. Day 1 was to be the date he served his first day behind bars. He scheduled twenty years to get caught up — only to be still when he finished twenty years behind.

It was however the choice of the convicted in this case to take back the past taken from him, and in a manner befitting that of a free person unencumbered by undue haste. He had anyway no interest in the life outside, although it was exactly this life outside that was denied him by a sentence sufficient to balance the severity of the series of felonies that had been hung upon him, justly unjust as that latter rendering would have it. The time churning outside his window manifest so little in his outward bearing irrespective of his actual interest, which had been decisively tempered by the dearth of personal contact for over seven thousand three hundred and twenty-two days and nights. It shouldn’t surprise one that it turned out to be the routine outing necessary to purchase provisions for nourishment and hygiene that loomed in an increasingly burdensome manner in very short order. He had over the course of one hundred seventy-six thousand hours learned the odd, involuntary art of not breathing the abundance of outside air. With a refresher of a mere week under the broad light of the partially cloud-covered sun, and the general public he was at nerveracking odds to be around, did he manage to arrange full service of grocery and drugstore delivery and never left his apartment unit again except twice.

This was a further movement now forgone to additional irony, for in jail he was led daily from his concrete cube for a walk around the correctional complex, in lieu of which now emerged skipping rope and running in place. Another aspect diminished, human contact, went from six trips a week in the company of a prison guard to roughly one encounter with a delivery person in the same stretch of days.

In view of the ostensibly extreme approach of our recipient of off-the-books vindication, one might wonder with what temperament this ‘not getting on with his life’ would carry forward. Let alone concurrent with his backhanded deliverance, that which could be determined as justifiable embitterment towards a family who, in their absence of faith in the innocence and concomitant worthy humanity of their offspring, sibling, husband, and father, and their eventual abstinence from afforded visitation without which the prisoner in devastating degrees advanced in social petrification, it might be assumed that his days and nights would advance in anguish or hostility.

At the outset this assumption would bear out to be mistaken on the surface as our ambiguously liberated ex-con pored over his freshly funded free press articles with the enthusiasm of a dedicated historian, albeit as quasi real-time annalist. So too was the ritual that book-ended his frequent eighteen hour days disciplined. It commenced with Jane Fonda for fitness, continued through breakfast over the morning paper, made its way along with a stand & stretch break during the Lunch Hour Traffic Report, and kept itself abreast of frequent video news segments from a not quite concealed benefactor regularly delivered to the address sometimes in the nick of time for the analogous date, a day whose exercise was preceded by the marking of the calendar and which ended with the setting of the alarm clock.

 

Der Parkbank Pinkler Kapitel XVII: Grund genug

„Es ist die Frage, weiter, rücksichtslos weiter, oder aufhören, Schluss machen.”

—Thomas Bernhard
XVII.

Er sitzt auf einem Bett allein im Haftraum. Es liegen gegen ihn Hinweise für drei verschiedene Straftaten vor. Das ist Grund genug, ihn hier zu behalten. Verdächtigt ist er, einen Obdachloser in Hafennähe erschlagen zu haben. Der Verdächtiger wurde aufgefunden, mit der vermutlichen Opferjacke bei, samt Blutflecken. Er hat die Tatsache weder eingestanden noch bestritten. Wie er in den Besitz vom Bekleidungsstück kam, hat er bisher geschwiegen. Präzisere Details zu den Vorwürfen gibt es auch noch nicht.

Vor etlichen Stunden am Uferweg hinter Märkischem Platz wurde er von einem Streifenpolizist wachgerüttelt. Vielleicht ist es schon ein Tag her. Wenige Tagen davor war dieser Wachmeister auf den relevanten Ermordeten gestoßen, auf den selben Bank liegend, Kopf in Richtung Jannowitzbrücke zeigend, wie später der vom vermutlichen Täter, was der Blauer nicht umhin kam zu bemerken, wenn auch nur nebenbei.

Nun ist es unserm Verdachtsperson nicht entgangen, dass dieses Bett jener Schlafbankfläche in Größe und Form entspricht. Es ist wohl von dünn gepolsterten Brettern im Knast die Rede, aber den eckigen Latten gegenüber, was nicht unerheblich zu Hüft- und Nierenschmerzen führt, fühlt es sich hier behaglich an.

Er wägt das Für und Wider weiter ab: Hier gibts Schlafplatz und Essen. Wärme. Ein Klo. Eine Dusche. Selbstverständlich, nimmt man an, jedoch Schurken, die einem eventuell Gewalt antun. Doch draußen gibts sie auch. Und Mord ist grad angesagt. Dafür ist die Zeit irgendwie. Schlafplätze und Essen sind scheiße und stets aufdringlich im Kopf anstatt im Magen. Matratze wird irgendwann immer geklaut. Auch wenn es nicht kalt ist, ist es manchmal kalt.

Außerdem gibts keinen Blickkontakt mehr, geschweige denn das Miteinander. Ob es hier drin gibt? Auf der Straße wird es sich überall vor Unbehagen bis Ekel abgewendet. Dadurch wird sich die Minderwertigkeit andauernd verfestigt. So bloßgestellt zu werden, dass einer in diesem Welt versagen hat. Dass einer den Wille nicht besitzt. Dass man ab irgendwann diesen Wille als unerreichbar erlebt und auf dem Gehweg sitzt und Blickkontakt meidet auch nur kurz zu sehen zu bekommen.

Und das noch indirekt gegenseitig von der breiten Masse, indem sie den Blick meidet auch nur kurz zu werfen, um nicht selber bloßgestellt zu werden, dass sie einiges erkennt. Dass zum Beispiel Wohnungslosigkeit eine Ursache des Alkoholismus sei, ist Quatsch. Weil, was auch nur teilweise Quatsch ist, ist schlicht Quatsch. Dass obwohl es sich allezeit besoffene Penner gab — mit Leberzirrhose bis in der rot befleckten Nase erscheinend, die den größten Schauplätze der Erde schmücken und besudeln —, dass eine ursprüngliche Ursache tief in sich herumtreibt und sich wiedererkennt in den menschlichen Steinen, die in den Weg liegen.

Dass, was teilweise Quatsch ist, ist schlicht Quatsch, insofern Symptome zur Ausrede werden, Grund genug, dem Bettler keine Hilfe zu leisten und, wenn schon, nicht weil er damit Alkohol sucht, sondern weil er nicht im Besitz von diesem Willen ist. Tief im Inneren erkennt man den Unterschied zwischen diesem Willen und dem Lebenswillen. Ersteres ist Lebenslust, was unser Gefangener vermutet, nur gerochen zu haben. Gesehen. Gehört. Davon gehört. Observiert.

Zwischen damals, als er glücklich genug war, Unterlage und Wände unterm Dach zu haben — Grund genug, glücklich zu sein und trotzdem nicht glücklich —, und seitdem er auch ohne dieses weitermacht, ist der Lebenswille ohnehin de facto vorhanden. Und nun, obwohl das Ernähren eine Frage von Ob anstatt Wann und Wo und Wieviel ist, eine gewisse Ungewissheit herrscht über alles, die sagt, falls einer zuhört, warum man so treibt. Warum nur?

Diese allmächtige Ungewissheit heißt Todesangst. Ebenfalls darum wird den Blick abgewandt. Überdies ist das Augenkontakt soweit verloren wie es aus dem Gedächtnis unsrer Verdachtsperson verschwunden, wann er das erste Mal erkannte, mit dem Fluch von Lebenswille ohne Lebenslust beladen zu sein.

Zumindest von der Lage her sind alle Gefangene einigermaßen gleich. Ob sie vertraut verkehren ist rein akademisch. Das Arbeitsrätsel erledigt sich auch. Hier bedrängt der Wille nur die, die auf freiem Fuß wollen. Heute Nacht wurde gegessen und gut geschlafen. Grund genug zu gestehen ist seiner Gedanke, was sich von selbst versteht und auf ihn wirkt geradezu wie eine gewaltige Erleichterung.

Mit einem aufschreckenden Knall wird die Flurtür aufgesperrt. Widerhallende Sohlen begleiten einen schleppenden Schlüsselbund und kommen der Zelle nah. Der Schatten des Wärters kommt zuerst an, dicht gefolgt von seiner Gestalt. Sie versammeln sich vor den Gitterstäben und werfen einen neuen Schatten dahinter. Der stoppt, schließt um, schiebt auf und meint, »Die Beweiskraft der Indizien reicht nicht aus um Sie hier weiter festzuhalten. Sie dürfen nun gehen.«

__

 

Incredible sorcery ≠ credible sources.

There are so many things that make the current American president unacceptable to me, but I don’t see them taken up by the resistance to his presidency (hash-tagged or otherwise). Such an issue is conventionally disregarded, not because it’s buried by distraction (which it is) but because it does not rise to the level to meet with the resister’s resistance unless it’s been hammered into their consciousness parallel to their first learning to form full sentences, like the issues of national allegiance, federal law enforcement, and espionage.I really couldn’t care less about the state of the FBI. The only good that’s come out of that organization is seen through fictional depictions and Eliot Ness’ Wikipedia page. Theirs is such a deep record of oppressive behavior, blowing the lid off of the occasional crime ring cannot make up for serial entrapment and murder. But I’m even more sceptical about the virtue of US intelligence or the sanctity of its sources. The mere fact that these statements are potential enough to reap my own harassment &/or surveillance might land me broader sympathy if not for the short circuit of intellect that takes place when such topics arise.

It’s the result of lazy thinking, which in fairness to the lazy thinkers is the result of social conditioning, which, given where this has led, functions now like an authentic incantation that manipulates the emotional mind of its subject-objects, who take their views for rational rather than the affect they really are.

As to the things distracted from, their extant state in the public record would be well enough to get the consideration they deserve were it not for counter-conditioning that keeps them clear of the emotional radar the subject-objects are disciplined to react to. For example, the president’s readying another hundred billion dollar death package to Saudi Arabia is standard operating procedure. Mundane even. Boring. Coupled with the inbred acceptance that secret state science saves humanity from the bad guys, questions of credibility don’t involve having to think.

I’m not trying to assert that there are not categorical differences of real and potential illegality at play in the current White House. On the contrary. I just don’t care about them. Nor are the constitutional matters coincidental. They underpin the problem I’m complaining about. The shadiness seen from political actors in my lifetime most often conveniently lands linguistically, and therefore legally, in the area of mistakes made: irresponsibility, negligence, maybe recklessness. Even then the language is spun by those absolved of crossing statutory boundaries. You know, politics.

But more frankly I don’t give a shit about Russian spies and oligarchs because the American ones and the ones of their official allies have acquitted themselves horrendously as it relates to the state of the world today, and their only answer is to do battle with the symptoms they’ve caused rather than address their own complicity. Not that I would expect them to.

The last thing I expect, however, is a people trained to think a certain way to recognize its least comforting manifestations. The current phenomenon suggests monumental peril at the hands of a historically duplicitous acting president. That this might be beside a certain point, that his presidency in and of itself might be extraneous to the world’s problems seems to occur to almost no one.

Of course, this is only my version of a plausible explanation for the popular state of mind. I am not convinced that the people who are actively railing against the shocking traitorous criminality of the American president even care about his implicit disloyalty. They’re just responding to stimuli. And it sure gives them good cause to care that much less about things he has in common with his predecessors, which is something his removal from office would do less than zilch to mitigate.